All parents in Singapore would inevitably find themselves pondering this question: “Should my child enter Junior College or Polytechnic?”. Afterall, this is a significant choice to make, as it would determine your child’s schooling life for the next 2 to 3 years!
Follow up questions such as, “Which one is better?” or “Which one makes sure my child enters a good university or grants them a smoother career path?”, are also common. However, one thing that all parents must first understand is that neither one is objectively ‘better’ than the other!
It all boils down to what your child’s learning styles are, and what they want to do in the future. We must understand that this is a choice that your child must make for themselves, but as parents, it is important to clarify the distinctions between the two choices.
Hence, this article serves to break down the differences between JCs and Polys, so that you and your child can garner a better understanding before making such an important decision!
Academic or Teaching Style
The JC teaching style is more akin to that of secondary schools, in the sense that what is being taught is more theoretical than applicable.
The subjects offered in JC are: Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, Literature, History, etc, and they can be taught in H1, H2 or even H3 (The H represents ‘Higher’). Typically, H3 subjects are only offered with the recommendation of a teacher if the student has shown outstanding capabilities in a subject.
Given the mostly theoretical nature of these subjects, it leaves students with more time and opportunities to think about their career paths, if they have not yet decided on one.
Most lessons are taught in mass lectures, but there are also tutorials that involve teaching in a classroom setting, with a smaller group of students to a single teacher. Thus, if you or your child are worried about not being able to adapt to a new learning style from secondary school just yet, this might be a better option!
The JC academic structure also calls for a more independent style of learning, where the student will be tested on their subjects individually. There is an exception for Project Work, that requires the student to work in groups.
Thus, if your child seems to favour independent study, or prefers working on their own, the JC route might be better for them!
Students of JCs will graduate with an ‘A’ Level certificate.
The Poly teaching style deviates quite significantly from that of secondary school and JC. Hence, students who worry that they might not be able to adapt, might not find that Polys are suited for them.
You have probably heard the saying that being in Poly requires students to be more independent, which is rather true! Unlike in secondary schools and in JCs, there aren’t any teachers there to guide their students as closely.
Thus, this might be a good path if your child is confident in their independence! It is also a good experience to have for those who wish to become more independent.
Poly subjects are more applicable, and thus, require a more hands-on approach that trains their students on more practical skills. Thus, this style of learning might resonate well with those who are kinesthetic learners, rather than the traditional academic style.
It is also likely a better path if your child is already keen on what they wish to pursue as a career, as it trains them to be prepared in that field.
Project work is also part and parcel of being a Poly student. Students are required to work in groups for the majority of grade, and thus, will need to be comfortable working in groups for long periods of time.
Students of Polys will graduate with a Diploma.
Duration of Study
The typical time frame for students to remain in JC is two years, which makes it rather fast paced. Their timetables are generally rather packed, which requires students to be very diligent throughout their JC lives!
Polytechnic students often study for around 3 years, and are generally more spaced out in comparison to JC. Free periods and (occasionally) free days are possible too!
Future University Prospects
Local universities in Singapore tend to prioritise JC students over Poly students, with 70% of JC graduates securing a position in universities.
As such, the JC route might be better for those who are keen on entering university and do well in the traditionally ‘academic’ style of learning.
While lesser Poly graduates enter universities compared to their JC counterparts, that doesn’t mean that they do not qualify! In fact, more Poly graduates are being accepted into local universities in recent years, and nearly 1 in 3 of them make it!
Thus, entering university after Poly is definitely a possibility if your child is very keen on doing so!
Given the theoretical nature of the subjects studied by JC students, most of them lack the applicable skills needed to qualify for specialised jobs right after graduation. Hence, most JC students opt to enter university after graduation to attain those skills!
However, that’s not to say that it is impossible, as there are also JC graduates that skip university all together to pursue their careers. Some opt to work freelance, and some end up attached as interns to companies!
Since Poly graduates leave with a Diploma, they are qualified to enter the workforce in their specialised fields after graduation without university. Some employers might also opt to hire Poly graduates over JC graduates given their knowledge in applicable skills.
Thus, again this emphasises the importance of your child knowing what career path they wish to take should they choose to go to Poly!
Despite the packed timetables and busy schedules, JC students have plenty of opportunities for holistic development outside their school curriculum!
For one, most students are required to take up at least one CCA. Taking part in CCAs encourages the student to be able to meet more like-minded students and also grants them the chance to develop other skills!
While CCAs are not compulsory for students, most tend to join them anyway! Plus, the choices of CCAs are much more varied and the chances of your child finding one that they truly resonate with is much higher.
Not only that, given the heavy emphasis of project work in Poly, your child will also learn important teamwork and communication skills that are important when they enter the workforce in the future!
This topic has been lightly touched on in the beginning of this article, but we will be going into a little more detail here.
As mentioned before, the JC student is still quite closely monitored and guided by their teachers, which can be great if the student requires some micromanaging! Of course, the teachers there will also encourage them to be more independent in their learning.
Additionally, since JC students do not have to rely so much on project work for their grades (compared to Poly students), they are granted independence in their studies if they do not need additional help from their teachers.
Students are also highly encouraged to engage in creating their own projects in school, that they can run on their own or with some friends, with help from teachers only if necessary!
This is a good way for students who wish to enter JC but also want to exercise their independence in some way!
However, JC students are still required to adhere to a school uniform!
The more ‘lax’ style of teaching in Poly would naturally mean that Poly students are required to take charge in their own learning!
Without being under constant supervision of teachers, Poly students are granted the freedom to plan their own schedules and take the liberty to actively partake in lessons.
Being constantly engaged in project work also means that the student needs to be able to adapt to work with many different types of individuals on their own. This is great, as it allows them to teach themselves these skills that were initially taken for granted in secondary school.
Poly students are also not required to wear school uniforms anymore, which might be a significant factor in your child’s choice between going to a JC or Poly!
The students are permitted to flaunt their uniqueness through their dressing, which can feel very liberating after years of wearing uniforms to school! However, that’s not to say that they are simply allowed to wear whatever they wish.
There is still a dress code to be adhered to, such as no revealing clothes or vulgar graphics on their attire. Thus, if you were worried about that, rest assured that it would not be an issue!
In conclusion, there is no ‘better’ choice between JC and Poly, as it ultimately just boils down to the type of individual your child is! It is important that as parents, we take the time to sit down with them and really get to understand them in order to help them make this crucial decision.
At the end of the day, the choice should be made by the child, and not the parent, as much as we would like to! The best thing that a parent could do for their child is to be supportive in their choices and help them the best we can.